Extrathymic derivation of gut lymphocytes in parabiotic mice

Immunology. 1999 Jan;96(1):57-65. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2567.1999.00665.x.


In adult mice, c-kit+ stem cells have recently been found in their liver, intestine and appendix, where extrathymic T cells are generated. A major population of such thymus-independent subsets among intraepithelial lymphocytes is T-cell receptor (TCR)gamma delta+ CD4- CD8alpha alpha+(beta-) cells, but the origins of other lymphocyte subsets are still controversial. In this study, we examined what type of lymphocyte subsets were produced in situ by such stem cells in the small intestine, large intestine and appendix. To investigate this subject, we used parabiotic B6.Ly5.1 and B5.Ly5. 2 mice which shared the same circulation by day 3. The origin of lymphocytes was identified by anti-Ly5.1 and anti-Ly5.2 monoclonal antibodies in conjunction with immunofluorescence tests. Lymphocytes in Peyer's patches and lamina propria lymphocytes (especially B cells and CD4+ T cells) in the small intestine became a half-and-half mixture of Ly5.1+ and Ly5.2+ cells in each individual of parabiotic pairs of mice by day 14. However, the mixture was low in CD8alpha alpha+, CD8alpha beta+ and gamma delta T cells in the small and large intestines and in CD3+ CD8+ B220+ cells in the appendix. These cells might be of the in situ origin. When one individual of a pair was irradiated before parabiosis, the mixture of partner cells was accelerated. However, a low-mixture group always continued to show a lower mixture pattern than did a high-mixture group. The present results suggest that extrathymic T cells in the digestive tract may arise from their own pre-existing precursor cells and remain longer at the corresponding sites.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Appendix / immunology
  • CD3 Complex
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Intestine, Large / immunology
  • Intestine, Small / immunology
  • Intestines / immunology*
  • Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Parabiosis*
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, gamma-delta
  • Stem Cells / immunology*
  • Time Factors


  • CD3 Complex
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, gamma-delta